Larry House is a master blacksmith living and working in Picayune. His studio, Dragon’s Watch Forge and Foundry, is located on the Pechochen Swamp and specializes in hand-crafted weapons including knives, swords, daggers and axes. In addition to forging steel, Dragon’s Watch also casts pewter and bronze. Larry’s pieces are largely sold at renaissance fairs throughout the nation.
Larry grew up on a 200-acre farm in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri, where he first became interested in blacksmithing. As a child, Larry’s father would take broken farm implements to the local blacksmith for repair. However, the blacksmith passed away and Larry’s family was forced to learn how to do their own repairs such as casting Babbitt bearings in the bailers and mending sickle mowers.
“By the time I was 10 years-old, I was fairly capable of fixing most things,” says House. “As I got older I learned about the machine shop trade and graduated high school as a journeyman machinist.”
Larry joined the Air Force after high school and spent 24 years in the service installing navigation units as an electronics technician. During this time he continued his interest in blacksmithing as a hobby. Larry retired from the Air Force 10 years ago, and has since become a fulltime metal artist. He has apprenticed with other blacksmiths, but most recently served as a master artist in the Mississippi Arts Commission’s Folk Art Apprenticeship program.
Larry begins each project with a conceptual sketch, and then creates an elements list of items needed to create his custom pieces. He utilizes customary blacksmithing techniques such as traditional joinery and coal-fired forges, as well as traditional utensils such as ball pin hammers, calipers, and custom-made tools for specific projects.
Each June, Larry and his wife, Gwendolyn, host a metal arts festival at Dragon’s Watch called Fire in the Swamp. Larry also works as the sole proprietor of the demonstration forgery at the Louisiana Renaissance Festival.